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The assessment and management of tinea capitis in children.

Tinea capitis is an infection of the scalp and hair shaft caused by dermatophyte fungi. It is seen in all age groups, and the incidence seems to be on the rise in North America. Clinical diagnosis of tinea capitis can be challenging, as symptoms can vary from minimal pruritus with no hair loss, to severe tenderness, purulence, and permanent scarring in inflammatory kerion lesions. The diagnosis of tinea capitis must be confirmed in the laboratory by using fungal stains or obtaining cultures, since treatment may be prolonged with potential side effects. Systemic therapy is needed because topical antifungals cannot effectively penetrate the hair shaft to eradicate the infection. Oral griseofulvin remains the standard treatment agent, but terbinafine and itraconazole are also effective alternatives (although currently without Food and Drug Administration approval).

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